Conservative plans to allow Britain to have sovereignty over human rights issues were last night rejected by European officials.
In a move that leaves the UK a step closer to withdrawing from the European Convention on Human Rights, officials in Strasbourg warned that the Tory measures are “not consistent” with current agreements.
Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary, has said that a Conservative government after the general election will deliver an ultimatum to European judges to ensure that the Strasbourg court becomes little more than an “advisory body”.
He said that if the Council of Europe refuses to accept Britain’s new arrangements, the UK would immediately withdraw from the ECHR.
The plan for a new Bill of Rights is designed to put a stop to cases where foreign criminals and terrorists are allowed to fight against deportation from Britain by invoking European human rights rulings.
However, the Council of Europe yesterday said that Mr Grayling’s proposals are “not consistent” with the ECHR.
It added that it was “inconceivable that the UK as a human rights leader and founding country of this organisation would leave”.
The comments came after two former Conservative Cabinet ministers reacted angrily to Mr Grayling’s plans to overhaul the way European human rights laws are treated in the UK.
Ken Clarke, the former justice secretary, said that he found the plan “bewildering”.
He told the BBC’s World at One programme: “I have often, even as a minister, lost judicial review cases where I was rather annoyed by the judgment of the court, but I have never proposed to sweep away the whole jurisdiction on that basis.”
Dominic Grieve, the former attorney general who was sacked in the last reshuffle, said Mr Grayling’s measures are “almost puerile”.
“They are unworkable and will damage the UK’s international reputation,” Mr Grieve said.
He added: “In many cases, there’s a misunderstanding of what the court does. Even the paper which has just been produced by my colleague, Chris Grayling, includes in it a number of howlers which are simply factually inaccurate.”
David Cameron used his speech at the Conservative Party conference to announce that he would scrap Labour’s Human Rights Act and replace it with a British Bill of Rights.
A draft Bill will be published before Christmas, which has prompted fury from the Liberal Democrats, who are supportive of the ECHR.
Vince Cable, the Lib Dem Business Secretary, said: “It’s a very retrograde step.
“We would see a gradual decline in the credibility of our legal system because, essentially, in order to score cheap populist points, the legal system is being undermined and judges are being undermined.”
The European Commission also dismissed the question of the UK leaving the ECHR as “speculative”.
“Let us not forget that this is a proposal from a party. There is no proposal for legislation,” a spokesman said.
“There are specific provisions on human rights in the treaty that apply to all member states. All member states are obliged to respect these principles.”
Mr Grayling yesterday said that “the British public are desperate for change”.
“They believe it is wrong that decisions that should be about things that take place in this country and decisions about whether you can occupy a piece of greenbelt land and then claim your family rights to stay there when the rest of our society would not be allowed to occupy and build on that bit of greenbelt land.
“That shouldn’t be allowed to happen in our law and it should be matter for our parliament to decide and not for an international court to decide.”
Report By The Telegraph (Source Link)